If you’ve brewed an enormous pot of coffee and you have to go out, you’re taking the first right step to storage by keeping it in the fridge. However, if you let the coffee cool down and then reheat it, you will lose the all-important flavour.
Although, if you’re going to add in milk and sugar after you’ve stored the coffee, you don’t need to worry about that. Typically, if you’ve got a black brewed coffee, you can keep it in the fridge for two weeks (if stored in an airtight container). Once you’ve added milk to the coffee, you’re looking at two days in the fridge, and only if it’s stored in an airtight container and you’ve put it in the fridge within two hours. If you are going to store your coffee in the fridge, you should heat it to kill any bacteria - even though the taste will degrade. If you want to find out more, continue reading below.
How Long Is Coffee Good for In the Fridge?
Coffee can be kept in the fridge, but the length of time will vary depending on how it’s made:
Iced coffee is a funny one because, surely, once the ice melts, it’s past its best. However, even if the ice does melt, it will still be safe to drink but it will be heavily watered down. Unfortunately, no matter which way you look at it, watered-down coffee will taste grim and isn’t worth keeping. However, if you are going to keep your iced coffee in the fridge, you should remove the ice first. You can always add more back in when you’re ready.
When talking about how long coffee last in fridge, it’s impossible to avoid cold brew coffee. If you make yourself a cold brew, you don’t have to worry about the oxidisation process so much, and you can drink it for up to two weeks. As long as you leave it in an airtight container in the fridge, you can have it as much as you want. Further, if you do want a hot, cold brew, you can heat it over the stove. You will need to stir slowly over low heat and take it off just before it begins to boil. By using a cold brew and heating it, you are not risking the taste of the coffee.
Stovetop coffee is brewed by forcing pressurised steam through the ground coffee, which collects in an empty chamber for you to drink. The result is similar to espresso but it will be lighter and higher in quantity. The most popular tool used for stovetop coffee is a moka pot. However, it can be done ‘cowboy style’ using just a saucepan and ground coffee.
When answering the question - how long is brewed coffee good for in the fridge? The answer will vary depending on your storage container. Typically, if you keep it in an airtight container, you’re looking at around two weeks. Granted, it won’t taste that great, but it will still pack a caffeine punch.
If you’re a caffeine-fiend who happens to love coffee, you’re bound to have had your fair share of espresso. Given the size of espresso, there’s really no point in storing it in the fridge. If you are, you’re doing something wrong. This doesn’t mean that you can’t store espresso-based drinks in the fridge including a cappuccino and latte. However, you need to remember that you can only leave your dairy-based coffee in the fridge for two days.
What About Adding Milk?
We’ve talked a lot about storing black coffee in the fridge, but what about when we start adding milk into the mix? Not only does milk change the flavour of a well-brewed coffee, but it also messes with the ways we can store coffee.
Milk needs to be stored at a temperature of 4.4°C for it to stay safe to consume. Once it reaches this temperature it enters a danger zone. When in the danger zone, bacteria start to spreads rapidly. Therefore, if you’ve added milk to your coffee, you have a two hour window to finish it before it’s gone bad. If you put it in the fridge within this window, you can store your milky coffee for around two days. However, you need to store it in an airtight container.
This means that, if you’ve been to Starbucks but can’t manage the rest of your drink, you don’t need to waste your money pouring it away. Simply cover the hole at the top and finish it within two days. However, for the best practice, just stick to storing black coffee in the fridge.
Alternatives to Refrigeration
Here are some other ways you can save your coffee:
You can take your coffee cooling game to the next level and pop it into the freezer to enjoy later. We’re not talking about putting your entire jug of coffee in the fridge, because that would taste horrid. However, you can put your cooled leftover coffee into an ice cube tray. By doing this, your coffee will retain some of its flavours, and the next time you make iced coffee, you can give it an extra kick.
Leave it Out
Rather than putting your black coffee in the fridge, you can leave it out overnight and it will be perfectly safe to drink the next day. However, if you leave it out anywhere between four and five days, you will start to see mould growing on the top. If you are going to drink coffee that has been left, you should heat it to eradicate any potential bacteria.
We mentioned oxidisation earlier, so you may be sitting there asking - does coffee oxidize? If you are, you’re right on the money. When we brew coffee and it begins to cool, the molecules begin to oxidise as they collide between one and another. Throughout this process, the taste of the coffee jumps out of the window. Therefore, black coffee that is left out will be safe to drink, but it won’t taste that great.
Instead of putting your coffee in the fridge and risking oxidisation, you should invest in a thermos mug and extend the flavour’s life. If you invest in a quality thermos flask, you can keep your coffee hot for around 12 hours. Unfortunately, no matter what you do, you will lose some of the original flavours. However, you will have a better-tasting coffee than if you put it in the fridge.
How Long Does Ground Coffee Last in the Fridge?
When it comes to coffee grounds, you should avoid storing them in the fridge. Instead, you should keep them in a cool/dry place in an airtight container. Did you know that if you leave your coffee grounds in the fridge uncovered, they will start to absorb other fragrances? This means that if you’ve got chilli in the fridge, you can end up with a spicy coffee the next time around. Although it sounds fun, your taste buds won’t thank you for it.
3 Tips for Keeping Coffee in Refrigerator
Below are our top tips for keeping coffee in the fridge:
Let it Cool
This follows the same rules as putting anything hot in the fridge. If you don’t cool it down first, your hot coffee will make the overall fridge temperature rise. This means that your fridge will use more power to cool down, which will cost you more on the electric bill. Further, if your fridge temperature rises too far, you will invite in unhealthy bacteria.
Refrigerate Whole Beans
Keeping your coffee beans in the fridge isn’t the greatest idea anyway. However, if you do, make sure that you store the entire bean in an airtight container. If you put ground coffee in the fridge, there is more surface area. Having a larger surface area reduces shelf life considerably because of oxidisation.
Use Airtight Containers
We’ve talked a lot about this already, but you can’t answer the question - ‘how long does coffee keep in the refrigerator?’ - without talking about airtight containers. When you store coffee in an airtight container, you are reducing access to potential bacteria. Further, you are keeping oxygen out, which will stop the oxidation process and keep hold of flavours for longer.
When it comes to coffee beans in the fridge, you need to use an airtight container because they have sponge-like qualities. If there are any other strong-smelling foods in your fridge, your coffee beans will take on a slight taste - no one wants onion-flavoured coffee with their morning porridge.
The Take Home
There’s no denying that coffee is great and should be enjoyed straight away to get the best flavour. However, there will be times when you need to keep your coffee for longer. When storing your black coffee, you should put it in the fridge and drink it within two weeks. However, you need to remember to store it in an airtight container. If you don’t, you are inviting in other smells that will attach to the coffee. If you add milk to your coffee, you need to consume or refrigerate it within two hours. Even in the fridge, you need to consume your dairy-based coffee within two days. No matter how you store your coffee, you will never preserve the flavour.